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LHC poised for key milestone

DACEY lhc.jpg
Energy record for the LHC

By James Dacey

The bars of Geneva may well be bustling with excited physicists tonight, as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is now on the brink achieving a key milestone – collisions at 7 TeV.

At 5.20 a.m. this morning, two 3.5 TeV proton beams were successfully circulated in the LHC, the highest energy yet achieved in a particle accelerator.

CERN says that the first attempt to collide these beams will follow on a date to be announced in the near future. This will mark the beginning of the full LHC research programme.

Experiments will then continue at this energy until its detectors have accumulated one “inverse femtobarn” of data – roughly 10 trillion proton–proton collisions – with the run ending after two years at the latest.

If all goes to plan, CERN will then shut the LHC down in 2012 for a year or more to prepare it to go straight to maximum-energy 14 TeV collisions in 2013.

“Getting the beams to 3.5 TeV is testimony to the soundness of the LHC’s overall design, and the improvements we’ve made since the breakdown in September 2008,” says CERN’s director for accelerators and technology, Steve Myers. “And it’s a great credit to the patience and dedication of the LHC team.”

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